Using el Preterito Indefinido combined with cuando + Preterito Imperfecto

We use El Pretérito Indefinido for a new action in the past, which interrupts another action that was already taking place.
Read and listen to these examples:

Cuando me duchaba, sonó el teléfono.
When I was having a shower, the phone rang.

Cuando Elisa entraba en clase, se cayó.
When Elisa was entering the room, she fell down.

Cuando nosotros veníamos del mercado, tuvimos un accidente.
When we were coming back from the market, we had an accident.

Cuando ellos comían en ese restaurante, la policía detuvo a un ladrón.
When they were eating in that restaurant, the police arrested a thief.

In the examples above, the subordinate clause introduced by cuando uses El Pretérito Imperfecto in order to indicate that an action was already happening, while the verb in main clause is in El Pretérito Indefinido to express the newly-begun action.

See also:

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Examples and resources

Cuando nosotros veníamos del mercado, tuvimos un accidente.
When we were coming back from the market, we had an accident.


Cuando Elisa entraba en clase, se cayó.
When Elisa was entering the room, she fell down.


Cuando me duchaba, sonó el teléfono.
When I was having a shower, the phone rang.


Cuando ellos comían en ese restaurante, la policía detuvo a un ladrón.
When they were eating in that restaurant, the police arrested a thief.


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